It became obvious that the Pirates wanted to send Quinn Priester to the Arizona Fall League, after seeing how they handled his return to the mound from an oblique injury.
The 2019 first rounder has made three starts so far for the Surprise Saguaros, his latest coming on Saturday. John Dreker has done has done a great job chronicling the day-to-day of the Arizona Fall League and all the prospects from the Pirates’ system who have been involved. While I do plan on a more in depth feature once everything is all said and done, a couple things have stuck out in the first three outings for Priester.
— He’s been hit really hard, at least in terms of exit velocity. Of the 38 batted ball events that have occurred with Priester on the mound, eight of them have had an EV of at least 100 mph (21%). There has been a lot of runs going around in the AFL this year, so this has been the case of a lot of pitchers, and only one of those eight 100+ mph EV batted balls came in his latest outing.
— It’s been two big innings that has done Priester over his last two starts. In his last 10 innings pitched over his previous two starts, the righty has put up a zero in eight of them. He allowed four runs in the second on Saturday, while allowing a pair in the fourth the week before. The ERA, if you want to look at that kind of thing after 14 innings, isn’t pretty, but the damage has been isolated.
— According to Baseball Savant, Priester threw 31 sinkers on Saturday, by far his most popular pitch of the night. I like that for Priester, as the sinker seems to be by far the better pitch between that and his four-seam fastball. He didn’t get many swings and misses with it (two whiffs on 16 swings), but he did get eight out ‘events’ with the pitch (Savant doesn’t track if it was a double play or not). That means the sinker accounted for over half of the outs recorded on the day for Priester.
— Again, I’ll get more in depth with it as there is more information available, but, analytically through three starts, there may be an argument to be made that the slider is the best pitch Priester is throwing right now. The moment is better on the curve, but the slider is what is getting the chases and outs.
— The biggest fine-tuning that he could do is get more of a velocity difference between his sinker and changeup. The two pitches are near identical in velocity at this point, and the moment is even more similar. Really the only thing you can tell them apart by right now is the spin rate.
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Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.